Wakayama Bamboo Farm is one of the newest thriving attractions in Tochigi Prefecture which is open 7 days a week! The farm mainly produces bamboo plants, bamboo shoots, chestnuts and blueberries in their 24-hectare agricultural property.
One of their most popular attractions is the massive bamboo forest which has been featured in local films and commercials.
And guess what? They have amazing winter bamboo illuminations! The bamboo forest looks splendid after dark, so get your camera ready for that insta-worthy shot!
Carved bamboo lights are used for the illumination inside the forest.
The Bamboo Forest at Wakayama Farm is open all seasons, but if you are in Japan during the winter, I highly recommend visiting between November and February when you can witness a seasonal event called “Bamboo Winter Lights,” where you can experience amazing bamboo illuminations.
Everything transforms into a completely different view at night. The night illuminations give out that feeling of romance, mystery, art, and nature all combined in one which is really something you should see.
I last visited Wakayama farm in November after seeing a post of their beautiful winter bamboo illuminations on Instagram.
When you arrive, you are given a lantern, which comes in handy in areas that are a bit dark. It is battery-powered, lightweight, and will last throughout the evening. It’s one of those traditional Japanese-style lights covered in paper which give out soft light. It was really useful, especially around the chestnut trees area before reaching the entrance to the forest.
During my visit, I saw displays of carved bamboo lights, bamboo trees and pathways decorated with smaller lights, a disco ball reflecting lights to the surrounding bamboo trees, and a beautiful light show in sync with holiday music. The light show was reflected on a thick wall of bamboo trees. It made me feel the warm holiday vibe, it’s something I wasn’t expecting to feel inside a dark bamboo forest. It was a very unique experience.
One of the highlights of the bamboo forest tour is the giant bamboo swing. This swing beautifully sits in the middle of the forest and is made of huge bamboo poles which are put together in ‘a wave pattern’ that makes straight lines look seamlessly curved. I had a go with the giant swing for a good 3 to 4 minutes until the next person arrived. Sometimes you may have to wait in line to enjoy the swing since it’s a popular attraction.
Lastly, I went to the tea house (tent) in the middle of the forest to sit down and have some tea. I enjoyed a nice warm Japanese matcha tea in a bamboo cup paired with sweets made from the farm’s chestnuts.
The tea house is a big tent in the bamboo forest and was a great way to relax after walking around. Not to mention the bamboo cup which is a unique way to drink tea! You can also take your cup home as a souvenir.
As winter sheds most trees in Japan, the bamboo tree remains green and full of life. This makes the Bamboo Winter Lights event stand out from other illuminations in Japan.
This lively light display at Wakayama Farm would definitely make a great backdrop for your photo album, social media profile cover or posts. I used my ‘iphone 11’ and the photos turned out surprisingly good.
During the day, you can rent a hammock or set up a tent, take part in bamboo crafts making, harvest bamboo shoots (spring), or go blueberry picking (summer) as well as enjoy a photoshoot in Kimono (booking required). You’ll never run out of things to do. Just make sure to check their English website at the bottom of this page.
Daytime activities are also fun!
Wakayama Bamboo Forest is located in Utsunomiya city which is about 2 hours drive from Tokyo or 50 minutes if using the bullet train (Shinkansen). The farm can be an easy day trip, but I recommend staying in Utsunomiya and enjoying their famous gyoza dumplings.
There are many trains from Tokyo to Utsunomiya including the Shinkansen (bullet train) for faster trips. Once at JR Utsunomiya Station, the bus ride to Wakayama Farm is approximately 30 minutes. If you happen to have trouble finding the right bus stop or departure schedule, look for the Utsunomiya Tourist Office (Information Center) located inside JR Utsunomiya Station. I’ve been to the tourist office to ask for directions, and they were very friendly and helpful. They speak a bit of English and are happy to recommend places to eat and other things to do during your stay.
If you want to know more, you can find more about Utsunomiya city here. The city is well known for many things like gyoza, jazz, nightlife, Oya stones, and cycling.
If you feel like you need the exercise you could rent a bicycle from outside JR Utsunomiya station’s west exit and cycle to Wakayama Farm. Cycling to Wakayama Farm takes around an hour.
Visiting the Four Seasons Bamboo Forest at Wakayama Farm and watching the Winter bamboo Illuminations has been one of my favorite attractions here in Japan. It’s a good place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the holiday vibe in an almost zen way. This is no doubt one of Japan’s hidden gems!
A day trip from Tokyo would be a great idea, even if you wanted to see the Bamboo Winter Lights in the evening as there are trains that run quite late.
I also suggest visiting other interesting places or doing more things while in Utsunomiya, so make sure to read the travel guides below to discover more about Utsunomiya.
The winter light event is open to visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays every weekend as well as national holidays starting from the middle of November to the end of February.
At the time of publishing, admission fee is 1,500yen for an adult, 1,000 yen for 6-15 years olds, 500 yen for 3-5 years olds (free for 0-2 years old), and the event finishes at 8pm . Please see their website below for event details.
*There is also a smaller night illumination event on Saturday and Sunday evenings between March and October if you are not able to visit in the winter season.
Traveling through Utsunomiya tonight? Looking for a fun experience? Look no further and use our Utsunomiya Night Guide to explore Utsunomiya.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.
To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.
Contributor: Venice Akamatsu
Venice’s lives locally and has a passion to make travel videos so she can provide reliable information to travelers visiting Japan. After starting her youtube channel, she’s been continuously sharing about travel, local events, and everyday life in Japan.
youtube: Venice Aka